long time no blog – magic

a short story / poem about my family:

one day in Kansas a woman went out side with a sweet potato and yelled
and she threw it on the ground and went back inside
the next day
a man came to the house and asked her out on a date
that man was the only man she’d ever known that wasn’t a pig

and that woman is my mom and that man is my dad

a poem about my folks, by Lena Marvin

a void that spells void

they told me I need my marriage license
I don’t
but they convinced me I do
the picture is bad
my face is fat
my body is fat
it’s lucky I’m beautiful
it is not yet time for me to have a REAL ID
now I have flimsy paper
and a plastic card with voids in it that spell void
I took a vacation day, for this?
I suppose
I don’t want to be invalid for my birthday

once upon a bath

a million years ago
it was a day of hard things
I don’t remember the things
but I remember the exhaustion
my apartment didn’t have water
I was tired
you invited me over
you ran a bath
you gave me a glass of wine
I soaked
and your cats looked at me
curious and worried
and one of them let me pet ’em, not minding the water
and that moment is one I can call upon at whim
I revisit
how cared for I felt
how when you said “it’s no trouble”
I believed you
how I let go, and I just soaked

I soaked and your cats looked after me
and you looked after me
and it was magic

A belief in kindness

I think a lot of hate comes from nobility

From need

From denial

I think the world is shaped in part by control and oppression

I worry about what the fireworks might really be about

I have heard conspiracy and I’m inclined to agree

Without proof, without reason

Because the shape of history is shadowing the sun

I hope for kindness

I believe in it

In individual people trying to do right by each other

In institutions and even corporations trying to do the right thing

But they have wrong reason

And I fear the goodness will be lost

Slactivism & Poetry & Activism

Lena got grumpy on Facebook today

I don’t want to be like France. France’s color-blind racism is awful.

Color-blind Racism in France: Bias Against Ethnic Minority Immigrants

Taking the race question off of applications isn’t going to prevent racism.

Minorities Who ‘Whiten’ Job Resumes Get More Interviews

Taking the race question off of applications doesn’t help, it makes it so white people can think even less about their role in systematic oppression.

There is box I want banned.

I’m doing my best to provide and share intellectual resources. I’m studying and crying about the past, the atrocities of the present. Feeling sad about how shock dissipates, as the past and present echo, horrors feel predictable. Arguing with friends but mostly avoiding bigots. Writing poetry when I can’t not. Sometimes I protest, but not as much I feel I could. I still have more first-hand experience than most of my ivory tower peers. Honestly, mostly I hide. I hide out of fear of the state / the ugliness of police / the intensity of the feeling of protest and sense of community that overwhelms me. Right now? I hide because there is a plague. Often, I vote and worry I’m doing nothing.

Poem – Darwin Award

Why do I hate it when you say ‘darwin award’?

because you are trying to protect yourself from something by saying it hurts dumb people, so it can’t hurt me
but it can

because Darwinism isn’t about what you think it is about
because Darwin isn’t about what you think he is
because my relationship to the history of science
and to the history of faux science
runs deep, and the meaning of your statement
expands in my mind
way beyond what you mean
and it fills me with despair

you wish death on people
you relish the idea of a deserved death
inside a mad world
where death comes to the people helping us
to the people helping them

Social Darwinism is steeped in a history of rich American racism
a racism that is reflected in the deaths in my city
why is this killing black people?
because the society we live in doesn’t believe black lives matter
I don’t know how to navigate
when you say
‘Darwinism’ what I hear is
I don’t understand history
I don’t understand science
I’m scared
I’m angry
I want to feel in control of the uncontrollable

and to me
it means you are just as bad as the people you wish harm on
and I don’t know how to explain
I am too interested in the history of science
I am steeped in pop science and faux science of the past
I can’t explain to you that
this isn’t what Darwin would have wanted
that this isn’t how evolution works
this isn’t about evolution, or Darwin or Social Darwinism

you don’t know about the racist history of science
the intersections of eugenics and meaning-making

every time I read your comments of
– Let Darwinism take them out
– Give them a Darwin award
I hear an echo of a history of racism and hatred that I can’t convey
I don’t know how to explain
it’s a history deep and old
and it isn’t about science
and it is about hatred and division

please stop it
please don’t say it anymore
I don’t want to read it
every time I do
I revisit a history you don’t care about
and I can’t stop you

you say ‘natural selection’
with a sneer
like it will protect you
like it will save you
and that isn’t how it works
you’re looking at death
and making it the other

Originally posted on facebook

Poem – Snooze You

the facebook snooze function saves friendships
if you don’t like what I’m saying now
try snoozing me
disappear my posts for 30 days
and after that time
I’ll likely be the same, but maybe you’ll have grown
snooze me
snooze friends
snooze family
snooze frienimes
snooze strangers
snooze at will (and don’t forget to snooze Will)
happy snoozing


in this time of social distancing
don’t neglect your mind and your eyes
virtual distance is a valid choice

snooze me once, shame on me, snooze me twice
consider unfriending

Poem – Grandma Marvin

I don my grandmother’s sweater
as if to protect me from the world
but to go into the battle of my first virtual departmental meeting
I look forward to the familiar faces I haven’t seen
working from home
scared for the world
doing my best
soon poetry month starts
what is this librarian to do?
don my grandmother’s sweater
feel her warmth
she survived the last pandemic
I imagine if she was here
she would be kind and wise and help me see the good in the world
there is a lot of good in the world
I want to be good in the world
the world feels far away
it is a great sweater

purple sweater